The Contrasting Skills
Everything I would learn and need today in business, I did on the field or court. Sports taught me five key things. Everybody is going to tell you sports teach you discipline, teamwork, and leadership, and I agree. But it's what I see as the contrasting skills that are important.
First, you need to learn how to lead and follow, and know when each is appropriate. There are many times you're called upon as a leader. Some of us do it naturally, some of us don't. But you need to know when to lead and when to follow. Sports teach you that.
Second, you need to learn to both compete and collaborate. You've got to be mentally tough to compete and win, but you have to have the ability to work as part of a team. You have to collaborate with other people because you can never get it done by yourself. Ever. That's important, as we discover later in life.
Third, in sports, because so much is done in day-to-day practice, you have to know about execution. You do something well because you've practiced it fifteen hundred times before you ever get on the field or on the court. But execution isn't enough. You also have to be strong at strategy. When do you employ which plays? And what's the plan to beat this team? Strategy and executioon are core contrasts that you learn in sports.
Next, you learn how to win and how to lose. You don't ever like losing, but you learn from it. You're going to do both in life, and so you need the ability to manage both, well and productively.
The final one is balancing confidence and humility. You have to be ultimately confident when you go out there. Confidence wins, always. That's one of the things Jack Welch taught us at General Electric. But that confidence has to be laced with enough humility, because there are others out there that could beat you if you're not on your game, and others that are better at certain areas. And if you don't compensate for their strengths, you're not going to win.
Every one of those five core contrasts can be used to overcome adversity and make you stronger and victorious. You do them naturally in sports, where they are critical, and then you learn to apply them in the business world.
by Brian P. Kelley